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Jeffrey Engel Education. (2013) 'Into the Desert Reflections on the Gulf War.'

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Romania 5, Baghdad 3, Bush 3, Navy 2, Texas A&m University 2, United States 2, Saddam Hussein 2, America 2, Pentagon 1, Air Force Marines 1, Randy 1, George Herbert Walker Bush 1, Bipolarity 1, The Navy 1, Kazakhstan 1, Soviet Union 1, Congress Party Apparatus 1, Centcom 1, Noriega 1, Malta 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Jeffrey Engel  Education.  (2013) 'Into  
   the Desert Reflections on the Gulf War.'  

    February 24, 2013
    6:15 - 7:30am EST  

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>> which is going to be over very soon. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much.
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now, i'm going to ask two of the people to join us on stage, and first of all i would like to have larry napper join us on stage. ambassador letting napper graduated from texas a&m university in 1969. he's a career foreign service officer who served his country as ambassador to latvia in kazakhstan at the time of desert shield and desert storm. he was a deputy chief of mission in romania where he received state departments distinguished honor award for leadership of the embassy. next like to ask lieutenant general randy house to join us. general house graduate from texas a&m university in 1967. and received regular army commission in the infantry. is commanded at every level in peace and war from platoon
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leader to deputy commander of u.s. pacific command. during desert shield, desert storm he commands the 22nd brigade blackjack brigade, first cavalry division. lieutenant general house brigade execute the coalition inception plan against saddam hussein's army making bloody incursion, prior to the start of the ground operations. these actions t deceives the iraqis and believing the coalition would attack from the south. to look forward to this discussion. we have people who were there and people who have studied what happened there. so let's go into the desert. >> well, i believe were waiting for your questions. so there are microphones on either side of the isles. and if you ask a question i'm
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going to t to do that all the cl things coming out of the archives. >> that inspires me. >> jeff, i don't have a chart. i use this map when i teach about the gulf war and i compared to operation iraqi freedom your and one of the big differences is, between both wars are the warring. so i'm wondering if we agree with your interpretation that president bush had this vision, bipolarity's in the, unipolarity is coming, we're going to have a freer hand in places like the middle east but we also want to set precedent for how we should do business. lazy constraint in his objective in order to maintain the coalition? did that play out when you look at the archives? was that a definite decision that you can only do so much with so many allies?
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>> well, i will answer the first. i'm curious to hear what our fellow panelists have to say. i think bush was constrained in two important ways and then also there's an important thing which is, the archives to my mind help explain decision-making, not interested addition to go toward the decision to end the war. clearly he was constrained by the concern of the israeli arab dynamic. israel is not a member of the coalition but many of the members of the coalition shall we say were not fond of the israelis. consequently he was constrained and the need to keep the war from going on long enough that the israelis want to retaliate. and at the same time hearken back to what i mentioned earlier, the desire along many for air solution. is concerned if he went further towards baghdad and, in fact, took over baghdad, that this would create greater entity
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within the coalition among his members who view that in somewhat as a reestablishment of western colonialism. but there's a very important distinction in which i would like to make. the revelation to me is in the archives. there's always been a question when the decision, the decision comes up about whether or not american forces should have continued on to baghdad in 1991. this is not a discussion within the white house for a very important reason. the ultimate goal or one of the ultimate goals be on the liberation of kuwait was the removal of saddam hussein from power. there was a 100% certainty on the part of the high level american officials that this is going to happen anyway. saddam hussein had been embarrassed because of people rising up against them. his army was out to get him. if he lived weeks it would be a shock instead of days.
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999 times out of 1000 i think is exactly how things would have played out. that saddam did not have survived. unfortunately from the bush administration's perspective, saddam rolled the dice and maybe. but i think given the question and the odds again, i suspect they would roll the dice again. >> i do think the breadth of the coalition did play a role in that calculation. my vantage point, or coalition. my vantage point on it was from romania, where only a few months before in december 1989 the only violence over the that occurred in eastern europe after the fall of the wall.
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romania had been a big ally of saddam hussein. and also of iran. and his successors. came out, many of them came out as for the congress party apparatus. they were not the closest associates but they were nonetheless common. why was remain important? because romania just happened of one of the rotating seats on the security council. so they had a vote. they needed nine votes. we really needed even the support of romania and its successors. at a time when united states didn't like an awful lot of things they were, in fact, doing. keeping a coalition that brought and that keep on board i think it have something to say about the objective.
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i was a colonel at the time. and by all this discussion was going on i was focus on running off guard and running off tackle. you know, down at the fundamental level. i had been the two years before the gulf war i've been on the joint staff and i've been the executive director of three joint chiefs of staff and was there for general powell's first six months. and the whole thing at the time, we were this close to the commander-in-chief of centcom being an admiral. it went down. it was between the two, three stars. it was between schwarzkopf, the army, and a navy three-star admiral. because at the time it was all
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about a tank or wars. and that's all we had been doing. so there was no thought -- we had no war plan. america has plans for more contingency than you can imagine. there was no contingency plan. there was no 1021 -- 1021 was all about the soviet union. so, you know, it was, the thought of a ground war in that region at this time, even to eternal was unbelievably remote. >> my question is to ambassador napper and general house.
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and that is, are you buying the kool-aid this man is dishing out? he reminded us at the very beginning of this talk that george herbert walker bush being a prudent, careful, cautious political leader. and then he tells us that he had a vision for a new world order, willing to risk an enormous amount because he saw the stakes that were so much bigger than saddam hussein. general house, didn't we expect saddam hussein to use chemical weapons? what were your estimates about casualties? can you really believe that we were ready to roll the dice?
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that this leader was going to take -- ambassador napper, is this your understanding of the man for whom this library is constructed? >> go ahead, sir. [laughter] >> can i interject if i may? let me just say, it seems to me -- >> you should let the kool-aid vendor defend himself first. >> i just want to point out that if only one of the three of us agree on the panel, i'm still batting 333 and i get into the hall of fame. [laughter] >> well, i guess i was at least partly persuaded by the argument. i do think that notwithstanding president bush's reputation, that he also did have a broader vision about the way he wanted the world to look after his administration. and i do think that the iraqi
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use of aggressive force to accomplish its objectives violated that notion of what the post cold war world might look like. so, i do think that there were other objectives. they were very much concerned about the defense of saudi arabia. that was a huge stake that seemed to be called into question by the invasion. i'm not so sure that they would've been so sanguine about saddam hussein controlling that larger percentage of the world oil supply. but, in fact, it might make a difference, you know, who controls that particular spigot. i'm also persuaded by the argument that when president bush was concerned that this set of events, not completely unravel, and if possible to validate everything that he and
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invested in, come to invest. after malta he had come to invest something in this relationship. to finally once and for all end the gulf war. so i think the remaining proximate objectives that he saw in the diplomacy of the persian gulf, first persian gulf war, but i'm at least persuaded that part of his calculation was that something had to come out of this that would be a better world in the long run. he had to have the way to answer that news conference question, what comes next. and what came next came the international coalition working together across all kinds of device and divisions that would be strong enough, durable enough to turn back aggression at a
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very critical juncture. >> the context that you lose after you know all, what happened, was after we'd gotten out of vietnam, we had been involved in a little island fight that wasn't much, and then we had been involved in just cause, taking down noriega in panama. when i got to the gulf with my brigade september of 90, all we knew we were going to defend, saudi arabia. matter-of-fact in october of 90 we started plans to build camps like we had in germany.
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i sought one time while all this was going on in washington, you know, i never saw tv and never listen to any reader. radio. i'm out there in the desert. nobody's been there since jesus christ. there was no camels, know nothing where we were. [laughter] there were no trails, no roads, no towns. and i could see us just sitting there like we had in the gap and europe forever. so we started laying out plans to build camps, to build ranges. it was a whole, you know, so, you just kind of had to understand the context at my level of where we were. you know, after vietnam after two tours of vietnam i had lived
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through 20 years of how bad, you know, it was to be a soldier. because we've done all these terrible things in vietnam. the only thing i knew was when we went to the gulf war we were so good, and the reagan dollars and what happened to america's military after vietnam. i remember being asked after the war by several think tank groups that came in to talk to me. they said, did you -- did you worry about where the enemy was? did you know where the enemy was? i said i didn't care. i just wanted to know where the friendly's were because i knew i could defeat any enemy we ran into. so the context at the time was so, has been lost of where we
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were and what was going on at the difficult levels. you know, never seeing any of these, never seeing any of these briefings september, october, november. we didn't really know we were going to attack iraq until sometime in the summer. all of our plans were defensive. we were defending saudi arabia, and it wasn't until sometime in december that we started working -- now, at schwarzkopf's level, unit them with colin powell's level, you know, they were into offensive war planning, but not at my level. so just, i don't know if it's drinking the kool-aid or just not quite understanding what was
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going on. when you're a colonel it's hard to envision what goes on at the president of united states life, okay? you just, i just ran off track. >> i'm going to accept both of those as really excellent. [laughter] >> i wanted to know your thoughts and revolution of military affairs. i see a little bit of the kool-aid and maybe president bush wanted to maintain order and stability. whereas in tiananmen square there was no real danger to the outside region, if you will. so given that, i am skeptical of the revolution of military affairs. and so not even a colonel, just a little captain, i've been
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grounded in army doctrine. so the communication capability certainly would have been in this conflict astronomical. and the events. and i'm sure general house can speak to that. but i was one in which are thought to our with respect to the goal for planning, and then whether or not you think this was actually a revolution of military base. >> no, actually i don't. for two reasons. the first is that we have a lot of memories as i mentioned before, memories are bad, terrible things. if i ask most of you had for lunch, most of you will get it wrong. if i ask you if you but what you saw on tv 22 years ago, you remember what you saw over the last 22 years, not what you saw 22 years ago.
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one of things that was on television was of course really remarkable images of american smart bombs and missiles hitting exactly what we wanted. two points about this. the important a member. the first is that's really quite impressive that's new and that's something that's clearly the enemy didn't have. but the second two points i think at that first of all the pentagon didn't show you any video of things it missed. that's bad pr. and the percentage of weapons that were smart weapons in the first gulf war while infinitely anything more than the iraqis had was remarkably small. compared to the impression the pentagon gave in the military briefings where they only showed pictures of smart bombs and smart missiles seen flying through windows. that was a very, very tiny percentage of the munitions actually expend. so i don't think this is so much
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a revolution of military affairs so much as a vivid demonstration as you pointed out as just a proficient at united states was in waging war, especially against a less proficient adversary. but it also was a military affairs, and that is the ultimate goal of the conflict was a political goal. and so, therefore, the military planning that involve both smart and dumb weapons in a war where design with a traditional military conclusion, which in truth was not revolution at all which was getting the enemy to do what you wanted. so i can't see this as a revolution of military affairs. i'm getting a revolutionary site and the fact that we're out of time but i do want to let the general comment. >> well, as i am the to do, the
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revolution in military affairs was something that had come at the time, goldwater-nichols had been passed, that try to join the military, and it was all, it was all that was talked about back in the '80s. it was this revolutionary, revolution of military affairs, and what it meant to me was it finally, after coming out of vietnam, that we have had, we had some real thinkers in the military that had worked through what it took to wage war at a very high left out of the level using all the tools in the toolbox. army, navy, air force marines.
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when someone says why jeff for air force, just because we need them. coming, the marine seven air force, the army has an air force. the navy has an air force. the air force has an air force. but when you're a war planner, or you're fighting, you pick tools out of the toolbox, and it was wonderful -- i thought what we received from the american taxpayers was this unbelievable tools. the smart weapons were just, which still be understood in everything that you could go on the m1 tank. all that was there was a combination of hardware and it was a combination of unbelievable training that had occurred since that if not more, the national training center. all the things that went in, did you worry about the inner -- the
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enemy? know, i've worried about my buddies. i didn't want to shoot my own guys. >> let's take one more question. >> well, accepting the argument that bush's policy was governed, the president will be set. i want to we've a couple of earlier questions together. the question of wmds. they do show up on the battlefield at least possibilities, right? scud missiles around the region. [inaudible] >> as the war starts and ends about other things the bush
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administration wishes -- northwards once they're in the conversation, is there a way we will have a way to set the post-cold war order? >> that's a very good question. the answer is yes and no. let me dvd no first. i'm quite certain it these concerns, these chemical weapon concerns, biological weapons concerned, maybe even nuclear, our clearly concerns on the battlefield. but at the highest level of diplomacy, to my mind, that is the secretary of state and at the presidential level, george bush did not seem to be too concerned about keeping iraq from using wmds as a way to remind others not to use them. with one exception. president bush wrote a letter to
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saddam hussein on the eve of the air war. by the way, the two were not in a lot of conditions which is rather unusual. and he gave a letter of course to secretary of state baker met with others in geneva, and a letter which we have an archive is really quite remarkable. it says in no uncertain terms if you use nuclear weapons, or if there is any terrorist attack against any american ally anywhere in the entire world, we are going to presume you did it and we're going to respond with nuclear weapons. they don't say we world use nuclear weapons. they use a nice catch by such as we would use the false measure of our arms. so the sense of not so much setting a precedent in a subsequent conflict but telling any leader just before the conflict begins, the military complex begins, adheres the red
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line, was explicitly done by the bush administration. >> if i could make one brief comment, and that is a team as a surprise to the international community just our -- just how far along saddam hussein was with the nuclear program. the inspectors again have access to iraq following the gulf war. while it may not have been first and foremost in the minds of planners before the invasion, it certainly became a sensation of the international community later, that he had sort of large ordinance of nuclear weapons that nobody knew much about at the time. >> with the dean standing there and figure out how to answer this quick, as a brigade commander i was convinced that we're going to get slimed, but
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they were going to hit us with chemical weapons, but we were so well-trained, the only thing we really needed was more water to be able to put with the chemicals that we had with us to cleanse our tanks and her personal carriers and everything very quickly so we could get back into the fight. and so ended up getting 5000-gallon japanese water trails which were part of my formation. we trained and trained and trained on how we would decontaminate from the chemicals that we knew we were going to have. i thought, the gulf war lasted 96 hours but i fought for 30 days, i was switch costs force trying to convince the iraqis that it was at the gap of the region and it was, the main coalition attack would come up and hook into kuwait by kuwait airport. they p

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